Baltimore and Me

“Another op’ning, another show in Phildelphia or Baltim’o…another op’ning of another show”

Here we are in actually not that humid Baltimore where we’ll be living until Jon can earn the illustrious title, Herr Professor Doktor. We’ve only been here four days, but we’ve already managed to enroll in preschool and eat the largest “kid size” anything I’ve ever seen.

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That’s an enormous custard with rainbow sprinkles care of The Cow. There must be at least 3 scoops of ice cream in there. For myself, I prefer their italian ices.  This one is cherry – a little too Slurpie like for my taste. Next time I’ll go back to my usual mango.

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I hope you’ll keep reading as we explore our third new city. I’ll be here posting about the fun things I find for S to do (and, for the first time, with the help of family!) and some of the places we eat along the way.

PS: Can you tell that I was a drama nerd as a kid?  “Hairspray” and that line from”Kiss Me, Kate”  have both been stuck in my head for weeks. 

sand and sea

With only three weeks to go, we’ve been filling our time with as many activities as possible. There is nothing worse than running out of things to do before a move and just sitting at home, staring at boxes and thinking about all of the things you would like to get out of them. Especially for a three year-old who will suddenly think of toys she hasn’t played with in over a year, but will need it RIGHT NOW or the world will end. WHERE IS MY SQUEEKY GIRAFFE?!?

So I finally gave in and we spent a day at the beach.

 

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The beach was, um, ok. I think if I were able to just sit quietly and read a book I might enjoy it, but as it is I am much more terrified of the giant waves whisking my little girl away to a watery grave  and the weird germs that are most definitely  lurking in the sand just waiting to make someone sick.  Ok, so maybe I like the beach as long as I don’t have to touch the beach.

Oddly, I feel much calmer by lakes. I am from Michigan after all.

Laguna Beach

Time to start saying “good-bye” to all of our old hangouts. Although, this time I won’t be missing much.

I’m sorry. I’m just not a California girl. I like wearing sweaters and snow. I like not having to think about whether or not its too warm to get a hot coffee. I miss not having to specify that I want hot coffee.

Most importantly, I don’t like driving. California is all about driving.

There are, of course, a few exceptions. Laguna Beach is walkable and very popular – two things you can see in this horribly shot photo I took while getting pulled across the street by a three year old.

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We spent four hours walking around, peeking into little shops, and checking out the menus at restaurants we probably won’t have time to visit before we leave. We went to the playground and told S there would be a “next time.”

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We still haven’t really been to the beach. You know, with swimsuits and everything.

Maybe next time.

Would you like to read some of my posts about leaving Berlin? Klicken Sie hier oder hier

Wir packen wieder ein

Without the inspiration of travel, I’ve fallen into a bit of a hole this year with baby takes berlin. We came back to California so that my husband could finish his dissertation with university funding knowing that it would be another one-year-only spot. Now we’ve finished the diss – and yes, I do mean “we.” Anyone who has ever had a spouse or partner in grad school understands that this is a family affair. Academia isn’t just a job; it really is a lifestyle. Now comes the hunt for funding either in the form of a job or grants for more travel and research.

And so we’re moving. Again.

This time, for the first time in our adult lives, we’ll be living near family. Updates to come, as always.

housekeeping

Yesterday, I went to Loehmann’s looking for a bathing suit cover-up and left with a new, wool jacket.

What can I say? I’m geographically challenged.

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We’ve spent the past month in a state of constant over-drive. There was the sinus infection that would never end, the musical that wasn’t (see previous item), new shoes for S (its a big event – she’s gets very attached to her shoes), an out-of-town conference for Jon, his dissertation, a trip east, dissertation, and, oh yeah, THE DISSERTATION.

We’ve also spent a lot of time wishing we weren’t here. This hit particularly hard last month when Germany is at its second-best: Weihnachtszeit.* Even if you don’t celebrate christmas, there are the Märkte, Baumkuchen, snow, and bickering with Jon over whether or not Glühwein is any good or just plain awful. I made my own Brezeln from scratch in addition to my usual rotation of Schnitzel and Rotkohlsalat. I even made a desperate search through the paltry german section of World Market and managed to come home with some Niedregger marzipan and a few packs of Dr. Oetker’s Vanillazucker. What I’m going to do with vanilla-flavored sugar, I don’t know, but its in my kitchen now, so I better think of something.

I also need to think about what I’m doing with this blog. I will always write about German-related things in my life, which shouldn’t be a problem for someone married to an almost German professor, and I will always write about travel. I’m not going to write about parenting, because no one needs another blog about potty training (it sucks, by the way), but I will write up restaurants or other places that I find to be child-friendly. Of course, there will also be the occasional quatsch, nonsense.

To end this housekeeping post, here’s a photo of S shopping at the Container Store, because we love to contain things.

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Especially toddlers.

*absolute best is in the summer. Warm weather really brings out Germany’s good side…or maybe just its less stern side. Incidentally also a lot of naked sides, but that’s something else entirely.

culture shock

We have been in Kalifornien for almost a month and have most of our stuff out. I say “out” instead of “put away,” because my husband waged a very personal, bloody war  against the cardboard boxes that at least provided a little bit of order – I mean, they WERE labeled and stackable – and now all of our possessions are all over the floor. Surprisngly no actual blood was spilled. He managed to gut a couple dozen boxes without injury, yet he can’t even look at a cheese grater without part of his thumb falling off.

Now here we are with stubbed toes (me) and a burning desire to go to IKEA already (again me) so we can get all of this stuff off the floor once and for all. Or, at least until next school year. There have been some things to get used to, some reverse culture shock, which I bet most expats will tell you is much harder than regular, ol’ culture shock. In fact, I’ve sat down to write this post so many times I’ve lost count. There seems to be so much and yet so little to say. I still get nervous leaving things to do on a SUNDAY. How could we possibly pick-up those rice noodles I forgot to buy yesterday? What do you mean we can just get them at Whole Foods tomorrow? Is it a Verkaufsoffenesontag? No, we just live in the AMERICA now where G-d is totally ok with you shopping on Sunday, but if two men hold hands its the END OF THE WORLD. And why can’t items be tagged with the real price, not their pre-tax price. I’m sure the first store-clerk I bought something from thought I was deranged until I realized my mistake.

And what about S? She will very simply tell you that she is from Germany. When we did finally go to IKEA she cried because she didn’t want to take the car; she wanted to go in the bus. I think she is the only person in the history of the BVG to miss bus 248, but there you go. That’s my Mäuschen.

airberlin: the transatlantic edition

Flying with a toddler is always a gamble. You can bring as many toys and snacks as you can stuff in your carry-on, but nothing is foolproof and you can never predict how your tiny monster  will react to being force to stay in a cramped, little space (and by two years old, economy seats even kids can find economy seats cramped)  for the duration of the flight. You can’t always predict how an adult will react to being forced to stay put in a cramped, little space either so let’s just get that out of the way.

Lucky for us, headphones proved to be a big hit.

We flew airberlin for this flight and again they proved themselves to be the child-friendliest airline we’ve flown yet. After take-off, the children, and there were a surprisingly high number of under-fives on this flight, were handed tin pencil cases with crayons, a game, and lanyard with airberlin “IDs.” It was the perfect distraction for my least favorite part of the flight when you’re in the air, but still can’t unbuckle your seat belt.

The next 7.5 hours in air passed mostly without event – except for the migraine turning the inside of my head into jelly. I kept it to myself until I just couldn’t. So there you go, sometimes the problem on the flight is the grown-up.

Re-enty

Over the past week I’ve sat down a total a ZERO times to finish my posts about Die Schweiz (also here and here).Of course, over the past week I also packed up our apartment, sat in an airplane for almost ten hours with a two-year old, threw-up in said airplane on said toddler (Why, yes, I am very lady-like and refined.), and set up camp at my parent’s house until our new apartment is ready in 10 days.

I wish I could say S is transitioning to American life well, but she’s really testing the limits. Also she does not understand shopping malls or why we aren’t getting in the U-Bahn?  This does make car-rides fun and exotic, though. Interestingly, there are times when she will only listen to me if I speak to her auf Deutsch.

She also started categorizing food as “lecker” and “no lecker.”  Other than that, we’re still waiting to see what German she’s retained. I’m planning on buying Little Pim in German for her and, of course, Jon will continue to use  German exclusively when they’re alone. Right, Jon? Right?

Until I have a chance to catch-up, here’s a photo of S walking with her new best friend: my parent’s Japanese Chin, Charlie.

Ausländerbehörde

Die Ausländerbehörde, the Foreigner’s Agency, is the place where expats, such as myself, go when they want to annoy the Germans by living in Germany. For most people is an extremely painful experience like having dental work done while waiting at the DMV. We, however, are experts. Experts, I tell you.

This morning we were in and out in twenty minutes.

Maybe its not fair to brag about that. We already have Aufenhaltserlaubnisse (residency permits) and only needed a ten day extension for a conference. We also made an appointment, the importance of which I cannot stress enough. Make an appointment! Don’t be like the dozens upon dozens of people who started waiting in line an hour before the office opened just to be told they would not be giving out Wartennummern (numbered tickets) today. O, be like us and enjoy a nice moment of schadenfreude instead.

So our number gets called and we thankfully open the office door to find Frau K, the woman who helped us with our permits the first time. S was incredibly well behaved and spoke up in her adorable toddler voice at just the right moments. There’s also a Familienraum, a playroom where you can wait for your papers to get processed. S and I played there last time, after showing our faces to Frau K, and made Jon do the waiting.

But applying for only an extension went much faster than applying for our original permits; we didn’t even have to show her the myriad of documents we brought with us. It was madness though, trying to get through the confused people wandering the halls, trying to get in to see someone. So here’s my second unasked for tip – if you don’t know German, at least learn the names of the forms you’ll need. Have multiple copies.

And if you can, bring a adorable, blonde baby and teach her to say “Danke tchussi.”